How firm is your foundation?

(Luke 6) 5783 B”H

Luke 6:46 stood out to me today in my reading. It is part of the Sermon on the Plain, a fairly well-known passage that echoes the Sermon on the Mount, but goes beyond what we would call “beatitudes” and includes woes and warnings to ensure that God’s people seek to build their faith upon a firm foundation.

A Direct Question

“Why do you call me, ‘”‘Master, Master’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46, TLV

Yeshua (Jesus) is our Master, our LORD. Many of us are familiar with the New King James translation:

“But why do you call Me ‘LORD, LORD,’ and not do the things which I say?” Luke 6:46, NKJV

He is LORD, and we are not.

Therefore, as followers of our Almighty and Merciful Savior, we are to very intentionally become servants of our Master Yeshua (Jesus).

Deliberate Faith

Oswald Chambers, a Scottish Baptist-Holiness evangelist, used the term “deliberately” to describe the relationship we are to be in: “The passion of Christianity comes from deliberately signing away my own rights and becoming a bondservant of Jesus Christ.”

Peter described himself this way:

“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ . . .” 2 Peter 1:1

This is all remarkably countercultural, of course.

The world seeks increase, but as John would preach, we must decrease (John 3:30).

Yeshua (Jesus) asks a very direct, but entirely fair question:

You call Me your LORD and your Master, so why don’t you do what I tell you to do?

Why don’t you do what I say?


There are instances when we know we should have done one thing, but did another.

Times when we knew God was leading us in a certain direction, but we either ignorantly failed to really tune into His voice or we very deliberately or defiantly chose to ignore His leading.

Yet our Savior Yeshua (Jesus) died so we could be in relationship with Him. He gave His life so we could confidently live our lives knowing this life is not the end.

He simply asks us to obey Him.

Our Perfect Teacher

He is our Master as well as our Teacher:

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40

There is great truth in that statement.

If you have been taught by God-fearing men and women, you will learn to emulate them.

If you have been taught by the arrogant, a twinge of that arrogance will probably brush off on you.

As followers of the Perfect Teacher, we should absolutely be hearing His voice and seeking to be just like Him. That His Words would be our words and we would speak Truth and Life, Love, and the message of Salvation.

Yeshua (Jesus) taught using stories. This helps us visualize the lesson He is trying to help us to understand:

“Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.  But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:47-49

A Firm Foundation

Throughout the Scriptures, the LORD emphasizes the need for us to have a solid foundation:

“So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:

‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
    a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
    will never be stricken with panic.'” Isaiah 28:16, NIV

As someone who fights an ongoing war with anxiety, I love the translation here in the NIV. We who rely on our Savior, our sure Foundation, will never be “stricken with panic.” Our faith must help us win every battle! Anxiousness really has no place in the life of a believer so it is a battle we must fight and trust Him to help us win. ” . . . God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7.

I am also a person who has a ton of faith. I’ve seen enough miracles to know His mighty power is still working today. Faith, built on a firm foundation will take you so very far and you will witness so many glorious works of the LORD.

Are you praying today for a loved one to be saved?

Trust in the LORD! Have faith!

Build your prayer life upon His promises and maintain a firm foundation.

No matter what comes up against you, you will prevail if you continue to build up your faith by reading God’s Word, listening to His voice, and obeying Him!

Rebuilding the Foundational Wall of Jerusalem

When Nehemiah oversaw the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem, there was adversity:

“But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stones that are burned?” Nehemiah 4:1-2

Nehemiah was not deterred.

Nehemiah had a firm foundation, the anchor of his soul: he loved the LORD and wanted to do all he could to serve Him:

“So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” Nehemiah 4:6

The people had a mind to work.

When those who love the LORD set their minds to work for His Kingdom, amazing things can happen. Let those naysayers be, and keep working for the LORD. He will bless you and keep you safe from all harm because your foundation is found in Him.

Our Chief Cornerstone

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19:21, emphasis added)

Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) is our Chief Cornerstone and our faith is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.

When we are firm in our faith and understanding, we realize that we – together with God’s people all around the world of every nation, tribe, tongue – we comprise the temple, spiritually now. Our body, the Body of Christ, the Body of Messiah, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, (1 Corinthians 6:19).

The Importance of Teaching our Children

“And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying:  “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’ ”

Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel,  that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:1-7 (emphasis added).

This account from Joshua (Yehoshua) is a perfect example of attention devoted to children. The Israelites were journeying, they were tired, they had to contend with their fears and foes, and yet the LORD inspired Joshua to instruct the twelve men to carry a stone that would serve as an object lesson “in time to come” when the children asked about the significance of the stones.

Have you invested time into training up your children to know the history of their faith?

Do you come from a blessed background in which you grew up knowing about Jesus?

Not everyone grew up with a firm foundation, but we can all work to change that for future generations.

When you children ask in time to come all the details of faith, may the story of Joshua be included, for those stones began to lay a foundation even there in the wilderness.

How firm is YOUR foundation?

Is your faith truly founded on the Rock who is our LORD?

Are you in true relationship with the LORD of all, the One who came to save you?

I love this hymn and want to share it with you today, that it would bless you. Take some time to pray and ask the LORD to confirm to you that your foundation is secure! May you be most especially blessed today, dear friend!

D’varim and Deliverance in Luke 4

(Luke 4; Va’etchanan (D’varim/Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11) B”H 5783

The Word of God provides for our deliverance from ha-satan’s attacks. Today, we look at how our Savior used Scripture during the wilderness temptation in Luke 4 to cause the enemy to flee!

The enemy’s limited tactics: he waits for us to be weak

Have you ever noticed that the enemy of our souls preys upon us in our weak moments?

David certainly knew it:

“For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.” Psalm 143:3-4, NKJV

When we are at our best, fully confident of our place as children of the Most High God because of what our Savior and Messiah Jesus (Yeshua) has done for us and we are walking in the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) – it is much more difficult for ha-satan (satan) to attack. When we are physically healthy and strong, it is also more difficult for the enemy to attack because our alertness is at a peak – we are prayed-up and fighting off those enemy darts!

So why does the devil have difficulty attacking?

The devil is limited!

Unlike ADONAI Tzva’ot (the LORD of Hosts),

the devil is

not omnipotent

not omnipresent

not omniscient.

Like any mediocre warrior, the devil waits for you to feel weak, and then he strikes.

Trials, tests, and temptation: augmented when hungry!

It was no different when our Savior walked the earth.

Yeshua (Jesus) was led by the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) into the desert wilderness for forty days.

Notice that Luke, a trained physician, mentions the physical hunger that Yeshua (Jesus) was experiencing:

“Now He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He was hungry.” Luke 4:2b

Our LORD Yeshua (Jesus), fully-God, fully-man was experiencing true physical hunger.

How do you feel when you are hungry?

It often depends on the day or the circumstances, but I observe that hunger can cause all sorts of issues:



inability to think clearly without distraction

generalized weakness

Symptoms of hunger can make a person susceptible to giving into temptation.

Have you ever promised you would fast, and the first thing that happens when you begin is someone offers you the most decadent dessert or invites you out to eat?

Or maybe something less spiritual.

Maybe you simply want to keep a diet.

You commit to eating your salad greens and limiting your consumption of deep-fried deliciousness, but as soon as you get out of your car when you are heading to work or school you smell the most wonderful scent of fried chicken or some other fast food you love.

The devil knows this. As soon as Yeshua (Jesus) had completed his forty day fast in the wilderness, hasatan jumped at the opportunity to tempt Ben-Elohim, the Son of God.

How our LORD responded to temptation using D’varim

Attack/Temptation #1

“And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Luke 4:3

Our LORD Yeshua (Jesus) responded using His knowledge of Torah (Pentateuch) and more precisely, the book of “D’varim,” which translates as the book of “Words.” (We know it as “Deuteronomy”):

“But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” Luke 4:4

deliverance Man does not live by bread alone but by the Word of God

The LORD Yeshua (Jesus) quoted the Words:

“So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.” D’varim/Deuteronomy 8:3, emphasis added

Attack/Temptation #2

“Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” Luke 4:5-7

How did our Wise and Holy Savior Yeshua (Jesus) respond? Again with a passage from Torah, specifically Deuteronomy:

“And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Luke 4:8, emphasis added

But notice here: before quoting Scripture this time, our Messiah addressed the devil directly, ordering him to “Get thee behind.”

This is important for us today because the devil continues to be a bother.

The devil’s attacks are vicious and he looks for whom he may devour:

“Stay alert! Watch out! Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, searching for someone to devour.” Luke 4:8, TLV

It is critical to put on the armor of God!

Keep it shined up and ready for battle, not rusting away in a closet somewhere!

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you are able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11

Deliverance is dependent upon confessing trust in the Liberator – the God of Israel and His Son Yeshua (Jesus) – and upon knowing the Word and how to use it! Remember, the LORD is your defense and He has provided His Incarnate Word to lead us to victory.

“He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.” Psalm 62:6

Another point of note: during the second temptation, hasatan adds pressure to his demand by citing his own (limited) authority. This tactic is further augmented in the third temptation as we will see.

Attack/Temptation #3

“Then he brought Yeshua to Jerusalem and placed Him on the highest point of the Temple. He said to Him, ‘If You are Ben-Elohim, throw Yourself down from here.'” Luke 4:9

If you noticed that the devil cited his own authority in the second temptation, notice that in the third temptation he goes so far as to cite the LORD’s own authority by using Scripture, specifically Psalm 91:

“For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,’ and,

‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Luke 4:10-11

The devil is desperate!

Surely, the devil doesn’t appreciate Scripture because he knows his future is sealed.

Yet hasatan (satan) will do absolutely anything and everything just for the chance to make a person fall into sin and destruction, and ultimately death.

The LORD again cites D’varim. Deuteronomy 6:16:

“And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ” Luke 4:12

You shall not tempt the LORD your God.

Yeshua (Jesus) is reaffirming that the LORD is God and that even the devil must acknowledge that Truth.

The devil was left speechless

Do you notice that after each Scriptural response, the devil had no comeback?

That ugly serpent couldn’t come up with a suitable counterargument.

So he left. Only for the time being, but the point is – the devil had to flee because he is put to shame by the power of the Word of God.

So be sure to study the Word for yourself!

Here is a wonderful song that can help you memorize Psalm 62:

When the devil wants to come against you, stand firm on the Truth of Scripture and he will have to leave you alone.

Let us look to our Almighty Savior for the best example of what to do when the devil wants to confuse us or twist Scripture for his own benefit. Know the Word for yourself and stand firm in your faith!

Spirit-filled Songs of Praise in Luke’s Gospel

(Luke 1-2) 5783 B”H, updated 2/20/23

Last week, I focused on Dr.Luke, Gospel-writer. His purpose in writing was so that the beloved ones would “know for sure the Truth.” We will see today that Luke was also very interested in recording examples of Spirit-filled praise.

As we continue to look at Luke‘s writings, I’d like to point out his early focus on praise hymns. Before the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke ends, he has already shared with us the song of praise (often called the “Magnificat”) of Mary (Miriam), the mother of Jesus (Yeshua).

This indicates to me that Luke was a worshipper. It seems to me that Dr.Luke had a heart filled with praise which inspired Him to write and share the Good News with us.

Miriam the Prophetess & Miriam, Mother of Messiah

When we hear the name “Miriam” related to Scripture, it is not uncommon to immediately think of Miriam the Prophetess, Moshe’s (Moses’) brave sister (Shemot/Exodus 15:20).

Both Moshe (Moses) and Miriam sang praises to ADONAI for leading them to safety through the parted waters of the Red Sea (Shemot/Exodus 15). With tambourine in hand, Miriam led dancing and singing:

“Sing to ADONAI, for He is highly exalted! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!” Exodus 15:21

Exodus Praise to Adonai

The praises sang in the Sinai desert set a precedent for the way praise would be offered throughout the Scriptures. Even today, we ought use these patterns for our praise – unashamedly rejoicing before the LORD in song and celebration.

Every bit of the Bible is compelling, but I find it very fascinating that Miriam the Prophetess is not the only Miriam in Scripture.

The mother of Yeshua (Jesus) was also a Miriam. “Mary” is anglicized. Back in ancient Bethlehem, it wasn’t “Mary and Joseph:” it was “Yosef and Miriam” blessed with their beautiful Son, Yeshua.

Luke’s Gospel account records that when Miriam visited Elizabeth, the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) filled Elizabeth “completely” (Luke 1:41, TLV).

In response to that Spirit-driven experience, Prophetess Miriam praised the LORD using the types of phrasing typical of Hebrew poetry. It is likely that Miriam, mother of Jesus (Yeshua) was inspired by the praise song sung by the other Miriam, sister of Moses:

“Then Miriam said,

‘My soul magnifies ADONAI,
and my spirit greatly rejoices in God, my Savior.
For He has looked with care upon the humble state of His maidservant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done a great thing for me,
and holy is His name.
And His mercy is from generation to generation
to the ones who fear Him.
He has displayed power with His arm
He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down rulers from thrones
and exalted humble ones.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent away the rich empty-handed.
He has helped His servant Israel,
remembering His mercy,
just as He spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed forever.'” Luke 1:46-55

Zechariah the Priest (Kohen)

Luke, being the very detail-oriented doctor that he was, made sure to record the song sung by Priest Zechariah because of its prophetic Truth.

Zechariah, too, was filled with the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) and Luke makes sure to point that out.

Notice the parallels between the songs of the Miriams and Zechariah. They begin by magnifying the LORD, blessing His Holy Name. The Bible says that Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore prophesied about his son Yochanan (John [the Baptist/Immerser]) as well as Messiah Yeshua our Savior Jesus:

“Blessed be ADONAI,
    God of Israel,
for He has looked after His people
    and brought them redemption.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David,
just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ages past,
salvation from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us!
So He shows mercy to our fathers
    and remembers His holy covenant,
the vow which He swore to Abraham
    our father, to grant us—
rescued fearlessly from the hand of
    our enemies—to serve Him,
in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
And you, child, will be called a prophet of Elyon.
For you will go before ADONAI to prepare His ways,

 to give knowledge of salvation to His people
through removal of their sins.
Through our God’s heart of mercy,
the Sunrise from on high will come upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet in the way of shalom.” Luke 1:67-79

The Army of Heaven

Are you familiar with Chris Tomlin’s song, Whom Shall I Fear? (The God of Angel Armies)?

I particularly love the line, “The One who reigns forever, He is a Friend of mine!”

Think about that! Let it sink in! The God of the Heavenly Armies, the All-Victorious, Almighty One, who reigns forever – is also your Friend. A Friend of mine!? Then yes, whom shall I fear? The Commander-In-Chief, the Eternal Protector, just so happens to be the One I can call upon at any moment and He will send heavenly host reinforcements. Immediately. He’s that Powerful. He’s that Loving. He’s that good of a Friend. ADONAI-Tzva’ot!

“A multitude of heavenly armies” proclaimed the birth of our Messiah:

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth shalom to men of good will.” Luke 2:13-14

Luke recorded these songs of praise to inspire us to do the same.

Praise the LORD today!

Does your soul magnify ADONAI?

Do you sing praises to the LORD Most High?

Have you, like those who have gone before us, recognized the Sovereignty of God in your life?

Do you rejoice in God your Savior?

Have you been rescued and delivered by His Mighty hand of power?

Are you filled with the glorious Holy Spirit?

Praise the LORD for all He has done!

“For the Mighty One has done a great thing for me, and holy is His Name.” Luke 1:49

Asbury Awakening

We appear to be witnessing a revival, or what is often more historically termed, an “awakening,” at Asbury University. As I wrote on our Adonai Shalom Facebook page,

“Let’s pray for the students of Asbury University. May this be a true revival/spiritual awakening that our nation and world so desperately needs. I have been cautiously optimistic that what is going on there may become the Azusa Street of our day. This generation has been raised on coffee and donuts in the church and is hungry for real spiritual nourishment. I pray this generation learns true worship and experiences the authentic power of the Eternal One! I also pray for the administration because the logistics of what is going on at the university must be quite a challenge to navigate. But may the LORD have His way and may hearts turn to Messiah Yeshua (Jesus)!”

This is such an exciting event to witness! We are in the last days, and there will again be Spirit-filled songs of praise lifted to our Most High God who is worthy of all honor and glory forever and ever. With all the modern technology, people have found out about the revival and are traveling from all over the world, hungry to experience the LORD. The Spirit of God is not limited to that place, but there will be people who, like the wise men, need to go there to see what it is the LORD has done and they will go and spread that news elsewhere. We should pray that this wonderful spirit of repentance and revival will continue and truly have a global impact.

Keep your eyes fixed on our Savior Yeshua (Jesus) – because He will come back for His own!

May you be most especially blessed today!

Luke: “That you may know for sure the Truth”

(Luke 1) 5783 B”H

I really love the Gospel of Luke and his sequel, the book of Acts.

Luke was a doctor. A learned man. He valued people and wanted to see them live healthy, full lives.

Do you know a doctor like that? Someone who went into the profession less for the money and more for the people? It’s not always easy to find a physician like that, but when you do, it is a blessing.

All too often, doctors rely on their extensive medical knowledge more than they do on God – the Giver of all that intelligence.

But Luke was different.

A doctor who encountered the Healer

Dr. Luke was certainly well-prepared and intelligent, yet he valued the spiritual side of things and was humble enough to recognize that there is an Almighty Healer.

As evidenced by his chronicling of the ministry of Yeshua (Jesus), Luke was very detail-oriented. Like any wise doctor, he would make thorough observations knowing that attention to detail could mean the difference between life and death.

Luke would have known firsthand that human medical practices were limited.

Surely he had been bedside when a patient succumbed to illness or injury and knew the feeling of helplessness, unable to prescribe a curing remedy.

Can you imagine the curiosity Luke must have felt when he witnessed the healing miracles of our Messiah? How perplexing! Was he skeptical at first? Did he try to explain it away using scientific reasoning? Or was he overjoyed that there was a true Healer?

Luke encountered the One who made the true difference between life and death – the One who defeated death and grants new and eternal Life.

As Luke realized that the Great Physician, Yeshua (Jesus) had come, he began to carefully document what he had seen in order to provide an orderly record to his beloved friends in the faith (ie.Theophilus). He must have been so fascinated, so captivated!

I’m confident Luke wondered: how could it be that this Man, Yeshua (Jesus), had authority to cast out sicknesses, heal diseases, and resurrect the dead!?

Luke the Gospel writer knew others were doing the same thing – “undertak[ing] to organize an account of the event fulfilled among us . . . ” (Luke 1:1). The Tree of Life Version gives an appropriate heading to the opening of Luke: “A Doctor Charts the Facts.” Luke wanted to make sure his account was accurate, to give yet another layer of evidence that the testimonies about the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) were indeed true.

In his own words: “Therefore it seemed best to me also, because I have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, to write for you an orderly record, most excellent Theophilus, so you may know for sure the truth of the words you have been taught.

Luke 1:3-4, emphasis added

That you may know.

For sure.

The Truth.

Luke so you may know the Truth

“Many convincing proofs”

Doctors would love to know things “for sure,” but usually they are making the best educated guess possible:

Maybe you have this going on…

We need to rule out x, y, or z . . .

Dr. Luke the Gospel writer was no exception. He didn’t believe that the Savior of the world came just because he saw one or two signs. His acceptance of Yeshua (Jesus) as the promised Messiah wasn’t based on what the crowds of people were saying.

He observed and concluded there were “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3) and wrote the second volume to his historical record, what is now known as the Acts of the Apostles.

Here he continues:

“I wrote the first volume, Theophilus, about all that Yeshua began to do and teach – up to the day He was taken up, after He had given orders by the Ruach haKodesh to the emissaries He had chosen. To them He showed Himself to be alive after His suffering through many convincing proofs, appearing to them for 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”

Acts 1:1-3, emphasis added

If you are familiar with the book of Acts, you know that Luke doesn’t shy away from reporting on the miraculous. Luke trusted that what Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah came to do by the power of the Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) was absolutely true and verifiable.

Yeshua (Jesus) showed Himself to be alive after being crucified

Doctors, even back in Bible times, are trained to read a pulse and understand vital signs. It is thought that Luke probably studied at one of the medical schools in Tarsus, Pergamum, or even Athens.

Obviously then, as a doctor, Luke would know when to pronounce someone dead. And living in the Roman Empire . . . harsh, cruel deaths were commonplace. He knew that Yeshua (Jesus) had been crucified. Crucifixion was one of the worst possible ways to die: a suffocating and bloody death.

Left hanging on a cross: chance of survival 0%.

Yet this Holy Man, this Yeshua (Jesus) . . . “presented Himself alive!”

He showed Himself to the disciples.

And not just once.

Luke tells us He showed Himself to be alive, appearing to the disciples for 40 days!

Who else has died, been buried, and then wakes up and presents themself to people for 40 days?

Had Luke or the disciples thought the resurrection and subsequent appearances were mere dreams or hallucinations, he had the credentials to identify them as such and dismiss them.

Before I became a believer, I heard something that helped me sort out the confusion. Maybe it will help you, too:

Muhammed is dead.
Ghandi is dead.
Buddha is dead.
But Yeshua (Jesus) is still alive.

Yeshua (Jesus) was dead and buried, yes, but that tomb is empty.

To this day, there is a sign at the tomb in Jerusalem that says, “He is not here for He is Risen.”

This is absolutely remarkable and Luke knew it! He knew there was abundant evidence confirming that the Savior of the world was alive and that what He taught was true.

Do you know this Gospel Truth?

Has your life been changed by the power of the Gospel?

If you are a person who needs proof, who needs evidence, then Luke is your guy! We will be going through the book of Luke together, and I hope that you will be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yeshua (Jesus) is indeed the Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer, and King of all kings!

Yosef’s (Joseph’s) spiritual gifts

Parashot Miketz (B‘reishit/Genesis 41-44:17), Vayigash (B’reishit/Genesis 44:18 – 47:27, (B’reishit/Vayechi Genesis 47:28 – 50) 5783 B”H

Yosef (Joseph) was blessed with spiritual gifts that helped him overcome adversity and rise to an important position in the Egyptian government.

“Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can a man like this be found, one in whom is God’s Spirit?” Genesis 41:38

The Spiritual Gifts/Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh)

When we think about the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh), we very rightly turn to the B’rit Hadasha (New Testament), namely 1 Corinthians 12:8ff:

“For to one is given through the Ruach a word of wisdom, to another a word of knowledge according to the same Ruach, to another faith by the same Ruach, to another gifts of healings by the one Ruach, to another workings of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Ruach activates all these things, distributing to each person individually as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:8-11.

spiritual gifts of Ruach Elohim

We know that these spiritual gifts continue to operate today and that the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) provides these supernatural spiritual gifts to empower believers to reach the world with the life-saving and life-changing Good News of our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ). These gifts have absolutely not ceased! They continue to bless the people of God around the world.

The 9 Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) include:

  1. Word of Wisdom
  2. Word of Knowledge
  3. Faith
  4. Healings
  5. Working of Miracles
  6. Prophecy
  7. Discerning of spirits
  8. Speaking in tongues
  9. Interpretation of tongues

Yosef clearly walked in wisdom and faith. The Bible testifies that he was not only favored, but also productive:

“A fruitful son is Joseph, a fruitful son beside a spring — daughters walk along a wall.” Genesis 49:22, TLV

“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall.” Genesis 49:22, NKJV

Hebrew is a visual language, painting pictures with words. The same term is used to describe both “daughters” and “branches” which is why there are differences in the translations above. In any case, Yosef (Joseph) was revered as an exemplar son.

Romans 12:6-8 also describes spiritual gifts given to believers:

“We have gifts that differ according to the grace that was given to us — if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; or the one who teaches, in his teaching; or the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who gives, in generosity; the one who leads, with diligence; the one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”

The Gifts of the Spirit . . . in the book of Genesis?

The “infilling of the Holy Spirit” (Ruach haKodesh), also known as the “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” occurred following Yeshua’s (Jesus’) ascension into heaven. What made the Pentecostal event so unique is that it had lasting effect: every single believer present and in prayer received the promise of the Father. The Comforter would now dwell inside the believers and empower them with the spiritual gifts to reach the world with the Full Gospel.

In the book of B’reishit/Genesis, as well as the rest of Tanakh (the Old Testament), the Spirit of the LORD came upon individuals, for certain tasks, for certain times. One could be filled with the Holy Spirit, but it appears to have been more of a temporary anointing.

This is important because Yosef (Joseph) was therefore able to operate under the anointing of the LORD even though this was pre-Shavu’ot (pre-Pentecost). Yosef (Joseph) was filled with custom-tailored spiritual gifts that would manifest as he interacted with those around him.

Even Pharaoh noticed:

“Then Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can a man like this be found, one in whom is God’s Spirit?’” Genesis 41:38

The pharaoh – the king over a wealthy nation steeped in its own complex mythology was able to recognize that the Spirit of God was in Yosef (Joseph).

Yosef’s Prophetic Dreams and Ability to Interpret Dreams

From a young age, Yosef (Joseph) had prophetic dreams.

Rightly does Yeshua (Jesus) teach us: “Truly, I tell you, ‘No prophet is accepted in his own hometown.’” Luke 4:24

Those early dreams really didn’t need interpretation – their meaning was immediately evident to Yosef’s (Joseph’s) brothers, and they were infuriated.

While the means by which Yosef (Joseph) arrived in Egypt was far from pleasant, he was actually better off away from his native land. His prophetic giftings would be perceived differently in Egypt: his spiritual gifts were valuable to Pharaoh and the other Egyptian officials!

The Pharaoh’s cupbearer and the baker had dreams that they could not understand:

“Then Joseph said to them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Please tell me.” Genesis 40:8

Yosef (Joseph) wisely recognized that the ability to interpret dreams required submission to the God of Israel.

When Pharaoh, too, dreamed, Yosef (Joseph) was also able to interpret those dreams.

Shalom for . . . Pharaoh?

Demonstrating wise leadership skills, Yosef (Joseph) also very astutely helped the Pharaoh to have peace with the process:

“Then Joseph answered Pharaoh saying, ‘It’s not within me. God will answer with shalom for Pharaoh.’” Genesis 41:16

This granted him great favor in the land of Egypt and propelled his successful future forward. It didn’t matter where he was from or the struggles he had had to endure, he was an immigrant to Egypt and would serve as second-in-command to Pharaoh.

When the enemy has planned evil, remember, God plans it for good:

“Yes, you yourselves planned evil against me. God planned it for good, in order to bring about what it is this day—to preserve the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20

Pharaoh usually represents the enemy, but this pharaoh was actually good to Yosef and his people, so this Pharaoh was blessed with shalom.

Prophetic Giftings can make the enemy very nervous

A New Pharaoh

Yosef (Joseph) was like a token Hebrew. He represented the Hebrew/Israelite people (whether he wanted to or not!). They were a minority in Egypt, but their numbers were growing.

By Exodus 1:8-9, a new Pharaoh had ascended to the throne and was distressed about the number of God’s people who were living in Egypt.

Yosef (Joseph) had died by then, but his life had left a legacy and as spiritual gifts are meant to do – the Israelite people had been empowered in knowing that one of their own had served Pharaoh so closely.

The new Pharaoh didn’t know Yosef (Joseph) nor his spiritual gifts, but perhaps he had heard some stories. He didn’t have the shalom that was brought about by listening to God’s servant as in the days of Yosef (Joseph).

He clearly perceived the Israelites as a threat to the security of his nation.

Why a threat? Maybe he had heard that there lived among the Hebrews . . .

Some who had supernatural abilities . . .

Some who had the ability to interpret dreams without calling upon the gods of the Egyptians . . .

Some who served a God who foretold and controlled prosperity and famine . . .

Only the LORD God of Israel alone could provide true dream interpretation and true spiritual gifts.

That could be very unsettling to a ruler who had paid seers and magicians to plead with their gods and use works of imitation as part of the national culture.

If your spiritual gifting is making the enemy nervous, you are probably doing something right!

The Spirit of God (Ruach Elohim) is at work today

Do you realize that today, God has given us amazing spiritual power? It is so abundantly clear that we are living in the last days foretold by the Prophet Yo’el (Joel):

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” Joel 2:28-29

Those who serve the LORD will prophesy and dream dreams and see visions. The outpouring of the Spirit of the Most High has blessed entire nations.

Missionaries report that in Iran today, so many people are receiving dreams and visions of our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) that they are converting en masse! New believers are being baptized in a country that is so hostile to the Gospel. The LORD continues to work! We must pray for the Iranian believers!

There are so many other examples of how the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) is working in the world today. And YOU have the opportunity to be a part of that!

Pharaoh noticed that the Spirit of God (Ruach Elohim) was in Yosef (Joseph):

Has anyone ever said that about you?

Is it that abundantly clear to a nonbeliever that in YOU dwells the very Spirit of the LORD by adoption and mercy?

Is it obvious that God’s Holy Spirit works in you and through you to bless others and testify of His power and greatness?

How are you using your spiritual gifts for His glory?

Today, seek the LORD’s will for your life. Ask Him to use your spiritual gifts for the purposes of His Kingdom. May you walk in favor, like Yosef!

Review: KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

I am a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid (BG2). As a #BibleGatewayPartner, I have received a copy of the KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible published by Zondervan Bibles at no cost to me in exchange for an honest review here on the Adonai Shalom USA blog. #BG2

Thompson Study Bible

KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible Book Review & Description

The KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible is an updated version of an original with the same name.

According to the introduction to this Bible, Dr. Frank Charles Thompson conducted in-depth Bible study beginning back in 1890 and wanted to make his findings accessible and available to the ordinary person studying the Scriptures. He highlighted what he felt to be the most important themes and topics and used a study system now known as “chain-reference.” As with any monumental task, Thompson’s original work contained some chain-references that were ultimately incomplete and needed revision. The editors of this new edition aimed to make appropriate corrections and reformat the margins to make it easier to use.

KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

My first impression upon viewing this Bible was that it is bright and modern-looking.

The yellow coloring coupled with gray ribbon bookmarks will appeal to anyone and makes it stand out from other Bibles.

I also love the metallic lettering on the cover. I could immediately tell that the publishers wanted this Bible to be something the reader would treasure. After all, there is no greater treasure than to know the LORD through His Word!

I personally prefer the New King James Version of the Biblical text as I find it easier to read, but the New King James Version of the Bible was not published until 1982. Thus, Dr.Thompson would have utilized the 1611 King James Version that remains popular today.

Zondervan does have this Bible also available in other translations for those who would prefer.

A Very Practical Study Tool

The cross-references and numerical indices alone make this Bible well-worth the investment. Beyond that, Dr. Thompson included Bible character study outlines which include full Scripture references, map details, Messianic prophecies, an alphabetical index, and other charts including the harmony of the Gospels and topical studies.

KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

Notice in this excerpt from the book of Ezra, there are many options for subsequent study found in the margins. The entire Bible is filled with these prompts and corresponding Biblical texts.

I really like how ample white space is given for short personal notes if desired and I also appreciate that the actual Biblical text isn’t broken up by commentary or other notes.

Moreso than a devotional Bible, the KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible is a study Bible in the truest sense of that word: rather than relying upon the comments of others, the formatting of this Bible encourages readers to search deeply into the Scriptures for themselves.

Each suggested reference topic is relevant and can inspire significant study. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) as you read the Word of God using the references in the margins and I am certain you will make profound discoveries!

The KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible is available in many formats including red letter, large print, hardcover, and bonded leather. It is available in the KJV, NKJV, ESV, NIV, and NASB translations. It seems apparent to me that the publisher genuinely wants the study of Scripture to be accessible to as many people as possible. What a blessing!

My recommendation:


Rating: 5 out of 5.

The KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible is definitely worth a 5 out of 5.

This is a Bible that will be beneficial to anyone who genuinely enjoys studying the riches of Scripture. It will be particularly helpful to those who prepare weekly sermons or messages as well as to those who lead Bible studies or other ministries.

The KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible would also serve well in an evangelistic encounter as cross-references can quickly and easily be located to help persuade an unbeliever to trust in the glorious Word of God.

Pastora Jennifer Mieliulis Fuentes, M.Div., Duke University

Book details

Title: “KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible
Author: Dr. Frank Charles Thompson
Publisher: Zondervan
Release Date: 
Genre: BIBLES/King James Version/Reference

ISBN-13: 978-0-310-45921-7

PURCHASE LINKS:  Amazon FaithGateway Store


Abraham, Isaac, Jacob . . . and Nathanael

Parashat Vayeitzei [Vayetze] (B‘reishit/Genesis 28:10-32:3) 5783 B”H

How does Jacob’s life and story relate to Nathanael in John 1? Find out in today’s Bible study!

A Dysfunctional Family

Yaakov (Jacob) wasn’t the most honest guy in the Bible.

But he also wasn’t from the most “righteous” immediate family. In fact, we could describe his family (like so many) as quite dysfunctional.

You do know that our families of origin do have some influence on our behaviors as much as we wish that weren’t the case!

Now, we are not going to “excuse” Yaacov in this study.

Regardless of our upbringing, every single one of us must acknowledge our sinful behaviors and turn from those evil ways in repentance.

Yaacov’s behavior was not righteous nor godly, yet we will discover that despite his failings, God chose to use him.

So, just know this – no matter what, God can use you, too, my friend.

Twins with little to nothing in common

The Bible describes Yaakov (Jacob) as a “mild man,” who “remain[ed] in tents.” (Genesis 25:27).

In modern language, we’d say Yaakov was a “homebody.”

Yaakov (Jacob) was a quiet guy who preferred the comforts and quiet of home much more than heading out looking to kill the night’s dinner.

His twin brother, Esav (Esau) on the other hand, was a total outdoorsman. He was “a man knowledgeable in hunting” (Genesis 25:27) so he was far more adventurous than Yaakov.

Did these brothers talk much?

Was there communication between these two seemingly polar opposites?

Esav would go out for long hours and I imagine Yaakov would spend quite a bit of time with their mother, Rivkah (Rebekah) because he stayed around the home.

Poor parenting

This is the same Rivkah (Rebekah) who married Yitzhak (Isaac) when she was very young. In fact, she showed some signs of youthful immaturity based on her very quick acceptance of the marriage proposal and her falling off her camel when she saw Yitzhak for the first time! Yes, the culture was different so perhaps her eagerness to marry was perfectly normal, and yes, Yitzhak might’ve been just that good-looking to cause her to fall off her camel, but it is fairly safe to assume Rivkah was quite young.

Indeed, some scholars believe the “young woman” Rivkah (Genesis 24:57) would have been younger than about 13 years old at the time of their engagement.

One clue:

She still had a nanny! (Genesis 24:59)

So if we wanted to give Rivkah a benefit of the doubt, we could posit that she herself had not been parented long enough to know how to appropriately raise Esav and Yaacov (Esau and Jacob) in a godly manner.

We could assume Yitzhak (Isaac) and Rivkah (Rebekah) must’ve gotten married too young.

But if we are careful to study the Bible, we will realize this is not the case, at least not for Yitzhak (Isaac)!

Genesis 25:20 says Yitzhak (Isaac) was 40 years old when he finally took Rebekah to be his wife!

Now, we do not know the age of Rebekah at this point. It wouldn’t have been uncommon in the Middle Eastern culture for Yitzhak to have been quite a bit older than Rebekah, but nonetheless, it would seem that even Rebekah would have had had enough time to observe motherhood and learn how to be a faithful wife and mother.

But Rivkah (Rebekah) played favorites and schemed not only against her oldest son, but ultimately against her dying husband!


Now, lest we let Yitzhak (Isaac) off the hook, the Bible reports that both of these parents showed favoritism.

“Now Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for wild game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” Genesis 25:28

It was a recipe for disaster.

Yaacov (Jacob) and his mother plotted a scheme to trick Yitzhak (Isaac) into blessing Yaacov.


Scripture says Esav came back exhausted one day from being out in the field (Genesis 25:29). Exhaustion coupled with hunger must’ve contributed to Esav not thinking straight.

Esav wasn’t savvy enough to realize how valuable his birthright was so he agreed to pledge it to Yaacov.

The red-haired twin agreed to give up his birthright in exchange for a bowl of red lentil soup.

Just a bowl of soup!

The man was hungry, but here is an extreme case of foolishness for giving into the stomach’s demands. He reasoned that he would die soon (Genesis 25:32) so the birthright would be useless to him.

Yaacov (Jacob) the Deceiver

Yaacov (Jacob) earned himself the reputation of “deceiver.” Some would like to soften this up a little and say he was merely a good negotiator or an astute businessman, but there is no denying that Yaacov acted with deception.

How is it then, that Yaacov is the one we remember?

How can it be that we talk about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

Why did God grant Yaacov (Jacob) a dream of a stairway to heaven? (Genesis 28:10ff)

Because God is merciful.

And He also honors words of blessing.

Yaacov had been blessed by Yitzhak, and there was no annulation.

Yaacov’s trip to Charan and encounter with the One True God

If you have been studying B’rieshit/Genesis with us, you will recall that Abraham’s father, Terah, had reached a place named “Charan” and stayed there. It was a place of rest.

It was the same place where later Abram would hear the voice of God.

Now, it would be the same place Yaacov (Jacob) would dream of the stairway to heaven.

When the Bible talks about what is often translated as a “stairway” or “ladder,” think about it like a ziggurat. It was probably a multi-leveled tower common in that region at that time that was described by translators as a stairway.

In the dream, Yaacov (Jacob) saw angels going up and down and ADONAI, the One True God, standing on the top of the structure. The LORD spoke to him and promised to bless him.

Perhaps it was here that Yaacov genuinely converted? Maybe he repented of all his deceptiveness? We know that he confessed that ADONAI would be his God (Genesis 28:21).

Yaacov (Jacob) recognized that he was in the Presence of the Almighty and he felt he had seen the “gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:17)

“So he was afraid and said, “How fearsome this place is! This is none other than the House of God—this must be the gate of heaven!” Genesis 28:17

In Genesis 35, God appeared to Jacob and told him he would have a new name: Israel.

An Israelite in whom there is no deceit

When God sent His Son, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) to minister on the earth, those who first realized that they had encountered the Messiah were filled with joy and enthusiasm.

Read what happened right after Yeshua (Jesus) called Philip to be a disciple:

“Philip finds Nathanael and tells him, “We’ve found the One that Moses in the Torah, and also the prophets, wrote about—Yeshua of Natzeret, the son of Joseph!” John 1:45, emphasis added

Philip convinced Nathanael to come and see and Yeshua (Jesus) makes a very interesting comment:

 Yeshua saw Nathanael coming toward Him. He said, “Look, a true Israelite! There’s nothing false in him.” John 1:47, TLV, emphasis added

I think the New King James Version will help us connect this a bit more easily:

“Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” John 1:47 NKJV, emphasis added

Do you see that our Savior was making a reference here to Yaacov (Jacob)?

Nathanael was being compared to Jacob, who had been renamed as Israel: here Nathanael is called a true Israelite – not a Yaacov (Jacob) who practices falsehoods.

Quite appropriately, Nathanael was surprised by what Yeshua (Jesus) said and asked Him, how did He know him? This is when Yeshua told him that he saw him under the fig tree even before Philip had gone to get him. (John 1:48)

What was Nathanael doing under the fig tree?

While it became more common after the destruction of the Second Temple, young Rabbinical students used to sit and study Torah under fig or olive trees. Nathanael may have simply been resting there, or he may have been studying the Word of God. Imagine if he had been reading about Yaacov just moments before Messiah makes the comparison between them!

Regardless of Nathanael’s reason for being under the fig tree, his heart was in the right place and his Messiah knew it. Nathanael believed just because Yeshua told him he saw him under the fig tree (John 1:50).

Nathanael immediately recognized that he was encountering the very Son of God.

““Rabbi,” Nathanael answered, “You are Ben-Elohim [the Son of God]! You are the King of Israel!” John 1:49

As though that is not enough, Yeshua (Jesus) promised that even more would be revealed to Nathanael. (John 1:50)

Yeshua (Jesus) made another allusion to Yaacov (Jacob): “And He said, “Amen, amen I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man!” (John 1:51, emphasis added).

The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be fulfilled. Nathanael would take part in God’s revelation to humanity that a Son had been given:

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

Isaiah 9:6-9

Search the Scriptures

There is a divine continuity in the Scriptures. Just as Nathanael knew to search the Scriptures and to put His faith in the King of Israel, so, too, we must do the same. When we recognize that what the Bible says is true, and we study and learn who God is and who is His Son, we see that His faithfulness has lasted throughout every generation, and we are now living in the last days. Our Messiah will soon return, and we must be ready to recognize Him and delight in Him! Philip and Nathanael exhibited such great enthusiasm and excitement because the Messiah was standing before them. Now, we have the Spirit of the Living God dwelling in us!

“Now because you are sons, God sent the Ruach [Spirit] of His Son into our hearts, who cries out, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6

I encourage you today to seek the One who came to rescue and save the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Allow your eyes to be opened to the Scriptures and to the Messiah of whom the Scriptures speak. The King of all kings, Messiah Yeshua, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God has come. He has demonstrated His authority, His omniscience, and His omnipotence.

Will you be like Nathanael who so eagerly followed the LORD?

Will you reject the spirit of deception and choose honesty as a true member of the household of God?

Will you live in the promises given to the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

John testified that “The Word became flesh and tabernacled [dwelt] among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Have you encountered this Savior? Have you looked upon His glory?

Perhaps you didn’t grow up in the most faith-filled or loving family. Don’t let that be a deterrent. God sees you where you are, whether you spend time under oak, pine, or fig trees; whether you live in the desert, the jungle, a large urban center or a farm; He is omnipresent – He is with you and He sent His Son to be Emmanuel – God with us.

Put your trust in Him today, and please, let us know about your decision! We love comments and would love to hear from you so we can pray for you. May the LORD use you, that all the nations would know that salvation has come!

Hanukkah, Zerubbabel, and the Second Temple

Some who have studied history have heard of Hanukkah’s hero, Judah (Judas) Maccabee, but are you familiar with how Zerubbabel fits into the story? Today we will take a look at the history and meaning of Hanukkah and discover how the LORD used Zerubbabel during the construction of the Second Temple.

The Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication

Hanukkah is known today as the Festival of Lights, and rightly so given that we celebrate the Light of the World – our Savior, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ)!

But the more correct translation of the Hebrew term “Hanukkah” is “Dedication.” Hanukkah is the Feast of Dedication.

Most Christians do not realize that the Feast of Dedication = Hanukkah. It is the same thing.

Did you know that Hanukkah is mentioned in the New Testament?

Hanukkah is mentioned in John 10:22.

Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.” John 10:22, NKJV

“Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem.” John 10:22, TLV

In order to understand the New Testament in its correct context, it is imperative for believers to learn about the Feast of Dedication!

Our Savior was in the Second Temple during Hanukkah

Hanukkah winter Jerusalem Chanukah

“Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem. Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade.  Then the Judean leaders surrounded Him, saying, “How long will You hold us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us outright!” Yeshua answered them, “I told you, but you don’t believe! The works I do in My Father’s name testify concerning Me.” John 10:22-25

Yeshua (Jesus) used the opportunity on Hanukkah to reveal that His sheep hear His voice and He gives them eternal life. (John 10:27-28).

Hanukkah is about Victory over Oppression and Insult

By being present during Hanukkah, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) confirms to us the validity of the historical record. He shared in the joy of the Hanukkah miracle.

Hanukkah commemorates the victory of God’s people. Today, we know that through our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) we have eternal victory, but we also celebrate the victories throughout history that have demonstrated the faithfulness of God to sustain His people.

A very evil tyrant named Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochus IV) had been severely oppressing the people of God.

He wanted to force assimilation to Hellenize the Jews so they would adopt the Greek culture and abandon YHVH.

He was such an obnoxious person that he took over the Temple and sacrificed a pig on God’s altar, an act considered highly offensive since the Jews do not eat pork.

To top it off, Antiochus Epiphanes had the audacity to set up a Zeus statue – right in the Temple.

Can you even imagine this?

Let’s modernize it a bit for the sake of understanding:

Imagine if your faith was illegal and the government took over the church you attend.

Imagine if the pulpit was replaced by a giant statue of a Hindu god like Krishna.

Do you have a communion table at church?

What if satanists came in and replaced the bread and wine or grape juice with the elements of witchcraft?

You would be outraged! Horrified! Something would have to be done, right?!

Well, the LORD used a man named Judah Maccabee to lead an uprising against Antiochus known as the Maccabean Revolt. As is so often the case, the Jewish army was hugely outnumbered, but when God is on your side good things happen.

Judah and his men won.


The Rededication of the Second Temple and the miracle of the oil

Though victory had been secured, the Temple of our LORD had been defiled.

It needed to be re-dedicated.

The process for consecrating the Temple required pure oil to burn in the Temple menorah, but there was only enough oil to last for one night.

But God is a God of miracles.

The oil that should have lasted only one night lasted for 8 whole nights.

The Temple was appropriately rededicated and the people were filled with joy.

Today, we use a special menorah for Hanukkah called a hanukkiah to remember the miracle.

Zerubbabel and the Second Temple Prophecies

This was the Second Temple, rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel. It was of lesser magnitude and grandeur as the Temple of Solomon, but the Prophet Haggai records the LORD blessing Zerubbabel for his efforts:

 “On that day’”—it is a declaration of ADONAI-TZVA’OT—‘I will take you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant’—it is a declaration of ADONAI—“‘and I will set you like a signet ring. For I have chosen you.’” It is a declaration of ADONAI-TZVA’OT.” Haggai 2:23, emphases added

The LORD also spoke to the Prophet Zechariah about this:

“Again the word of ADONAI came to me saying: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this House. His hands will also finish it. Then you will know that ADONAI-TZVA’OT has sent me to you.” Zechariah 4:8-9

Haggai’s prophecy acknowledges that the people viewed the Second Temple as “nothing” compared to the first Temple. But the LORD encourages Zerubbabel to be strong and to persist in faith:

“In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying:  Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying: ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? 

Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’

For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:1-9, emphases added

Have you ever worked so hard on a project, but those around you viewed you with contempt? Maybe they thought your idea wouldn’t work or that you were putting too much effort into something that might not be worth it in the end?

The LORD promised that His Spirit would remain among the faithful and that He would fill the Temple with His Glory.

Yeshua (Jesus) later taught in that very Temple – fulfilling Haggai’s prophecy that the glory of this latter temple would be greater than the former!

Lastly, it was in the context of encouraging Zerubbabel that the LORD said the work would be done, not by might, nor by power, but by the power of the Spirit:

“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the LORD of hosts.”
Zechariah 4:6

The dedicating of our lives

This Hanukkah, remember all that the LORD has done!

He is the God of miracles and He can use that which we might consider small or insignificant for His Glory.

If you belong to Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), your body is the Temple of His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Do you need a rededication? Sanctification (living and walking in holiness) is a process, and sometimes we need to get out the scrub brush and ask the LORD to cleanse us anew. Dedicate your life to Him! That is something I do over and over again because I love Him and I want to consistently be dedicated to Him and His mission.

Here’s a prayerful Hanukkah song about dedicating ourselves to the LORD:

He will use you for His Glory and He will work innumerable miracles in your life if you will trust Him and let your light shine!

Have a very Happy Hanukkah! Chag Chanukah Sameach!

Please subscribe to our monthly newsletter!

Review: Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible

I am a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid (BG2). As a #BibleGatewayPartner, I have received a copy of the “Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible – NKJV Translation”  published by Thomas Nelson Publishers at no cost to me in exchange for an honest review here on the Adonai Shalom USA blog. #BG2

“Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible” (NKJV Translation)

Book Review and Description

The Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible – NKJV contains the entirety of the Scriptural text in the New King James Version Bible translation along with devotional passages drawn from Matthew Henry’s commentaries, which are interspersed throughout the text.

Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible cover
Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible: 366 Daily Devotions by Matthew Henry

The introduction to this devotional Bible gives detail about Matthew Henry’s life. According to the introduction written by Philip Nation, Henry was a 17th century Presbyterian pastor in England. Nation shares background about some of Henry’s struggles, such as frequent childhood illness, loss of his wife and four of his infant children. Henry consistently turned to God’s Word as a source of comfort, making this devotional appropriate to any who likewise seek to draw encouragement and comfort from the Holy Scriptures.

Matthew Henry is well known to many for his numerous and thoughtful commentaries on Scripture. Many of us have relied on his thoughtful analysis of Scripture whether as students or as pastors. Because of my familiarity with Matthew Henry’s commentaries, I assumed this Bible would contain commentary, rather than devotional material – more of a “study Bible.”

The devotions in the Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible relate to the passage on the corresponding page, and they are dated for anyone who would enjoy following a devotional reading plan.

Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible

You will find the next day’s devotion listed at the bottom of the page, so you can place one of the two satin bookmarks there, ready for the next day, if you would like.

The Mathew Henry Daily Devotional Bible (NKJV) comes with two satin ribbons, one red and one blue as pictured, here placed at Isaiah 69.

With this format, one could easily find another interesting passage to read along with the day’s devotional, so I actually like the fact the devotions are spread throughout the Bible rather than arranged in a more traditional format. This allows the reader to spend time prayerfully in the Word and invite the Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) to truly guide one’s reading and devotional time.

A Devotional Bible

Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible (NKJV)

Given the exhaustive nature of Matthew Henry’s verse-by-verse six volume commentary on the whole Bible, I did expect to see more Matthew Henry devotionals in this particular Bible edition.

For anyone interested in a “devotional” introduction to Matthew Henry, this Bible will be very appropriate. It is less scholarly than jumping straight into his Bible commentaries. I could see this being an excellent gift for a young person going off to college or someone considering vocational ministry.

It is important to note that the Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible is aptly named and is not a Bible commentary nor a Study Bible. It is strictly intended as a devotional Bible.

The Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible can encourage any of us to put away the study Bibles for a moment and just focus our attention in a devotional format. With all the apps and electronic means of accessing the Scripture, having an actual book to hold and look through can help us slow down and focus on our personal devotional life with our Heavenly Father rather than studying all the time! The devotions in this Bible are Scripturally-based and free of distraction.

My recommendation:


Rating: 5 out of 5.

My initial reaction was to give the Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible 4 out of 5 stars, but the more I thought about the purpose of this non-study Bible, I decided it is worth 5 out of 5.

This Bible does not purport to give commentary nor to serve as a study Bible. It is intended as a devotional Bible, and it serves that purpose very well. I highly recommend this Devotional Bible to anyone seeking a devotional that can be used all year, and reused every year if desired.

Pastora Jennifer Mieliulis Fuentes, M.Div., Duke University

Book details

Title: “Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible – NKJV”
Author: Compilation
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: 
Genre: Bibles/New King James Version/Devotional

ISBN-13: 978-0-7852-4655-8

PURCHASE LINKS:  Amazon | FaithGateway Store


Matthew Henry Daily Devotional Bible (NKJV) back cover

If you are looking for other wonderful Scripture resources, check out my reviews of “Spurgeon and the Psalms: The Book of Psalms with Devotions from Charles Spurgeon” and “Eternity Now: The New Testament Series” (NET) also published by Thomas Nelson.

Interested in more book reviews? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for updates!

Quarrel & Accusation: 2 wells that couldn’t coverup victory at Rehoboth

Parashat Toledot (B‘reishit/Genesis 25:19-28:9) 5783 B”H

Our study begins today with the harsh realities of spiritual battle, but reminds us that victory is ours if we remain faithful to our LORD!

The Enemy’s Coverups

After Abraham had died, the Philistines covered over the wells he had dug in his lifetime, stopping them from providing any water. (Genesis 26:18).

Isn’t that how it goes sometimes?

The enemy is always ready to pounce.

A person works so very hard and so very diligently, but once they have either moved away or passed away, someone else comes along who wants to downplay or outright erase the memory of what that previous person did. This occurs because of a jealous spirit and selfish ambitions. In other cases, the enemy will devise a scheme and invent a coverup.

The enemy loves coverups, and there in the valley of Gerar, he literally inspired the Philistines to cover up the wells.

Sadly, I have seen this too often in ministry settings and if you have been hurt by this, I want you to be encouraged today because there is always a victory in the end. And it doesn’t only occur in churches. Families are often divided or torn apart by pettiness.

The Bible tells us to honor one another:

“Be tenderly devoted to one another in brotherly love; outdo one another in giving honor.” Romans 12:10

But all too often, rather than rejoicing in the wonderful, unique, God-given giftings of others, some church leaders find ways to discredit their peers, hiding behind seniority, experience, or education.

Yes… Sin finds its way in. Even in the church. Even in Bible-believing families.

So you have sowed and struggled and prayed.

The enemy preyed, but you prayed.

The enemy does his own preying.

The devil doesn’t want to see you well and prospering.

Abraham’s son Yitzhak (Isaac) was living into the promised blessing and became a wealthy and important man:

“Then Isaac sowed in that land and in that year reaped a hundredfold. ADONAI blessed him and the man became great and continued to become greater until he became very great. He acquired livestock of sheep and livestock of cattle, and numerous servants.” Genesis 26:12-14a, emphasis added

The Scriptures say, “Then the Philistines envied him.” Genesis 26:14b

The enemy of your soul will use any combination of envy, pride, arrogance, gossip, slander, distrust, anger, and jealousy to sow discord and disunity in families, businesses, and ministries.

Then the Philistines envied him. All the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham the Philistines stopped up and filled with dirt. So Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much more powerful than us.” Genesis 26:14b-16

Don’t give up or give in to the enemy’s way of doing things. Stay strong in the faith.

I am hopeful you have come out strong through the trials and the tests in life, but if you have ever taken a hard fall, be reminded today that God binds up the brokenhearted and heals every wound (Psalm 147:3). If you have been wounded in the battle, take the time you need to heal (this is very important!), and then get back up. Work toward restoration.

Is this you today?

Has the enemy been preying around you?

Have you been faithful to pray right against him?!

Restoring what the enemy tried to hide

Yitzhak (Isaac) wasn’t going to let his father’s legacy fade into the shadows.

“Then Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham—the Philistines had stopped them up after Abraham’s death. He gave them the same names that his father had given them.” Genesis 26:18

It wasn’t easy work in a desert land to dig a bunch of wells! But, the promise is sure:

“God, your God, will restore everything you lost…” Deuteronomy 30:3 MSG

If you remain faithful to the Mighty One of Israel, you will be able to go to the enemy’s camp and take back what he stole from you.

Living Water in the Desert

“Then Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found a well of living water there.” Genesis 26:19

Living Water.

Isaac servants well Living Water

Doesn’t this point us right to the book of John? John testified quite a lot about God’s Living Water, and perhaps most relevantly to us in this study, he uses the geography of the land to situate the account of the Samaritan woman:

“So He comes to a Samaritan town called Shechem, near the plot of land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. So Yeshua,[Jesus] exhausted from the journey, was sitting by the well. It was midday.” John 4:5-6, emphasis added.

Notice, the well at Shechem in Samaria is attributed to Jacob (Yakov) — Isaac’s son.

The promise is to your children, and your children’s children . . .

The wells that Yitzhak (Isaac) and his servants uncovered would bless his children including Esav and Yacov, and future generations. The well was still operational generations later when the Samaritan woman came to draw water. The ancient well provided the perfect setting for a woman in need to meet her Savior.

“Yeshua [Jesus] replied to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10

Be faithful in your generation

Yitzhak didn’t allow the good things accomplished in a past generation to just fade away under the dust.

He cared about that history.

He honored his father’s work.

But the work of restoration was met with some resistance.

Quarrels and Accusations

When the well of living water was found in the valley of Gerar, the shepherds there started arguing with him.

Because of that, Yitzhak (Isaac) named that well, “Quarrel.” [Esek] (Genesis 26:20).

The people at the Quarrel well said the water belonged to them.

And when he dug another well, he ended up naming it “Accusation,” [Sitnah] because the people kept on arguing with him over the water. (Genesis 26:21).

Quarrels and accusations.

The enemy wants to do anything he can to prevent people from accessing the Living Water.

But if you persist and you are faithful, great things will open up before you.

When Yitzhak dug another well – away from those that were causing conflict – there was no one around to argue about it.

Where are they who accuse you?

Yitzhak named this third well, “Wide Spaces” [Rehoboth]. (Genesis 26:22)

“Then he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he named it Wide Spaces and said, “Because now ADONAI has created wide spaces for us and we will be fruitful in the land.” Genesis 26:22

ADONAI’S Promise and Yitzhak’s response

The LORD watched Yitzhak’s faithful work.

He appeared to him that night in BeerSheba and told Yitzhak (Isaac) that for the sake of His servant Abraham, he would bless and multiply him and his generations. (Genesis 26:23-24)

Yitzhak’s response was one of gratitude and worship. He immediately built an altar and called upon the Name of the LORD. He pitched a tent and his servants dug another well right there. (Genesis 26:25)

God will give the increase

The LORD gave wide spaces to Yitzhak: the green light (or green pastures!) that would ensure generational prosperity and testify to the goodness of the LORD in the lives of Abraham’s descendants.

Abraham and Isaac’s example can point us to Paul’s teaching to the apostolic generation:

“I [Paul/Sha’ul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:6

When we realize that some of us are called to plant and others to water (or to find water by digging wells!), we realize that each of us has a special role in Gods’ Kingdom plan.

Along the way, the enemy will try to thwart the plan, but in the end, if you remain faithful to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – you will thrive, prosper, and live to see the salvation of the LORD!

Has the enemy been at work trying to discourage or dissuade you? How have you seen hand of God working in your life to bring you to open spaces that will allow you to freely testify of the Good News and reflect God’s blessings and promises over you? Please leave a comment below, I love to hear from you! Shalom!